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The Game of Ethics in a Godless World

Picture an aquarium full of only dirt and rocks.

Now imagine that this represents the sum total of reality. There is no mind beyond the walls of that aquarium, no watching eyes, nothing. Life is utterly absent within and without. There is only the stuff of matter.

Now suppose someone were to ask if the aquarium contained morality. Is it in there? If so, where might it be found? Under a rock? Hidden deep in the dirt? Perhaps floating about in the air?

Search as one might, digging here and there, morality would not be found.  It is nowhere.

But now imagine a creature suddenly forming in some mysterious, almost ineffable way. It is a slithering thing, long and inhuman, devoid of consciousness.

Might morality be found in the aquarium now? Nothing has fundamentally changed, save for the creeping creature, and that changes nothing. Morality is still absent.

Picture another scene. Suppose the slithering creature splits into other similar creatures, ones that in turn morph and change into other creatures. Imagine as well plants suddenly sprouting up. Envision rain beginning to fall and entire colonies of scurrying critters forming, ducking into holes and climbing trees.

The aquarium is now teeming with life.

Peering through the glass wall, we [...]

The Irony of Sin

On the night before his meeting with King Xerxes and Esther, Haman, in accordance with the counsel of his friends and wife, had a seventy-five foot tall gallows built exclusively for the neck of Mordecai, the faithful Jew who would not bow the knee in his presence.

Through the cunning of Haman, an edict had already been sent forth, spelling the demise of the Jews. The outlying provinces were to “kill and annihilate all the Jews- young and old, woman and little children- on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods” (Esther 3:13 NIV). It was a time of great mourning and weeping and fasting for God’s people. They were going to die.

One can almost picture Haman in his bed, listening to the sound of sawing and hammering, as the immense gallows were being constructed. One can imagine him replaying the image of Mordecai standing alone amid a sea of bent knees, refusing to pay homage to him. He no doubt pictured the obstinate Jew swinging in the noonday light, noose cinched tightly around his neck. He no doubt imagined what he would say before the onlookers, how he [...]

Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding (Three Audio Debates)

Here are some theological debates that might be of interest. Each can be found under “Ministries/Trinity Debate” over at the Carl F.H. Henry Center website.

Do Relations of Authority and Submission Exist Eternally Among the Persons of the Godhead?  (Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem vs. Keith Yandell and Tom McCall) 

This is technical debate that will prove taxing at times. But for those with a taste for the subject, they will probably want to give it a go.

Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?  (Jim Wallis vs. Al Mohler)

Unfortunately, the bulk of the debate is fairly repetitive. Since there wasn’t a time of cross examination, both speakers weren’t provided an opportunity to really disagree with one another until the Q&A. There the real differences came out more forcefully, however.

How and When Will All Israel Be Saved? (Douglas Moo, John Feinberg, Mitch Glaser, Willem VanGemeren) 

If you would like to hear a variety of voices interact with Romans 11, with an eye towards answering the above question, this panel discussion will provide just that. It is a little dry, but informative nonetheless.

Part 1
Part 2

 

 

A Lesson From Natural Evil

It’s reported that while attending a divine service on a wintery day, Sir Isaac Newton left in his study a favorite little dog named Diamond. Apparently a candle had been left lit upon his desk, which was situated near a pile of papers containing many years of scientific labor. When Sir Isaac returned home, he found his research reduced to ashes, the candle having been inadvertently knocked over by his little dog.

In one fateful moment, his work was irredeemably lost. When the reality of the situation hit him, Sir Isaac turned to his beloved dog and exclaimed, “Oh, Diamond, Diamond, little do you know the mischief you have caused me!”

For Diamond, it was impossible for him to grasp the magnitude of the loss. In many ways, we are like that dog. Sin is infinitely offensive, and because of our smallness, and our callused hearts, we fail to grasp its seriousness. But on the other hand, our Master has not left us without some very definite knowledge of sin’s potency. Instead of saying, “Oh, Adam, Adam, little do you know the mischief you have caused me,” God declared, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of [...]

Of Angels and Men

The question of Satan’s fall into sin has been an issue of considerable intrigue throughout the centuries. Theologians have burnt oil long into the night pondering the subject, trying to thread together the various strands of biblical data.

Here recently, I self-published a book on the subject. A fresh theory is presented and defended in detail. The book is entitled, Satan’s Awful Idea: A Biblical Theology of Satan’s Fall and Its Implications on the Unfolding Human Drama. If you’re willing to download the book as a PDF file, you can get it for free here: Satan’s Awful Idea PDF Version. Otherwise, it is available at Amazon.

As with any work of theology, questions and challenges will naturally arise. Mine is no different. One such question that has surfaced inquires into the relationship between the thinking of angels and men. In a recent interview with Barry York and Jared Olivetti (Podcast link) this came up. Another fine gentleman pursued the same issue in another context.

Since the theory I develop in the book hinges on angels, as rational creatures, closely resembling humans in their thinking, it could be asked why or upon what basis should this be the case? Why think that angels think [...]

A Good Bit From C.S. Lewis

Taken from Mere Christianity, chapter 9, Counting the Cost:

“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and
seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he
often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come
along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed.

These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old
days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into
situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever
dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the
slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is
getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the [...]

Forgiving Others

When you’re hurt by someone- really wounded- you’re forced to think through the matter of forgiveness afresh. This has been the case in my own life. How ought one to forgive? What if the person is unrepentant? Can you forgive someone if they don’t ask for it? Should forgiveness erase all of the consequences?

These are the kinds of questions that naturally arise.

I found great help in the following message by John Piper. Not only did it bring new clarity to the issue, but it proved to be something of a healing salve to my soul.

Perhaps you could use a good reminder as well? Maybe you’re struggling with the logistics of forgiveness?

Carve out 30 minutes and give it a listen.

You can find it here.

 

 

Truth In Mendacity

Man is a very confused creature. Merely consider the vast multitude of worldviews and religions, and how humanity understands reality in nearly every imaginable way.

Flip open a textbook of comparative religion. Turn the pages of a philosopher’s journal. Journey down the corridors of history. What belief does man not hold? It is all there, an immense churning pot of ideas, each competing against the other, each pointing their finger, shouting, “You are wrong! That is not how the world is.”

With all their ideas gripped firmly in hand, humanity forms itself into groups and constructs complicated arguments in favor of their positions, nuancing their viewpoints with care and fervor. Entire volumes are written. Volumes are then written about the volumes. Soon the library is stuffed full, books stacked precariously up to the ceiling. Look there! In the corner of that temple! In the corner of that college! There he sits, a man hunched over his sacred text, glasses clinging for dear life to the end of his nose. He’s pondering. Writing. Studying. His idea is taking shape. He is so sure now. He has found a fresh authority with a fresh insight. It is all [...]

The Epistle to Diognetus

Considered by Lightfoot to be the “noblest of early Christian writings*,” the Epistle to Diognetus serves as a truly fascinating letter. Composed in the second or third century, the epistle provides a glimpse into the evangelistic and apologetic strategy of one Christian dialoging with an outsider, Diognetus.

While there are many quotable passages, I am particularly fond of one section. Distinguishing Christians from Jews, and detailing the beliefs and lives of the saints, the author says the following:

“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric life-style. This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious men, nor do they promote any human doctrine, as some do. But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they [...]